National Public Radio aired a report this morning which should awake the sensibilities in anyone who cares to be sensible. The report covered Presidential strategies in the face of political opposition. The case in point was President Eisenhower’s response to American panic when Russia began to flex its muscles in the early 1950s.
President Eisenhower was well aware that the Soviet Union’s strategic intent was ultimately to defeat the capitalist West. The Soviet Union thought the West would tire of constant little wars and communism would triumph over capitalism in the market place.
Eisenhower concluded that the least desirable option was to allow America to get involved in a string of land wars. Eisenhower saw the uncertainty of these types of conflicts and that they would drain US resources. Even more to the point, these little wars could lead to a nuclear confrontation.
Eisenhower elected to avoid land engagements and confront the Soviet Union with nuclear containment.
Critics, the same type as the neoconservatives who championed the Iraq invasion and occupation, railed against the weak and feckless policy. Many openly championed a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. Hmmm.
History, not without a few white knuckle moments, has proven Eisenhower’s direction a wise strategy.
President Obama has also taken a lonely path with his Middle East strategy. Obama has withdrawn combat troops from Iraq (and is well on the way in Afghanistan) because local ground wars are loosing propositions. Instead, President Obama has offered military support, including air power, to Middle East nations willing to fight terrorists.
The President’s strategy has been described as wrong, indecisive, and feckless. GOP candidates have promised “carpet bombing” and more troops to root out ISIS, and… (there is nothing offered about the future from these candidates).
In the past few days, Iraqi troops have retaken the city of Ramadi from ISIS in a campaign which combined American support (air power) and Iraqi “boots on the ground”. Hmmm.
It is too soon to declare victory for the President’s strategy. Time will need to show Iraq’s resolve to push ISIS out of the rest of Iraq and that the Shiite dominated central Government can govern the Sunni western Iraq. But what a good beginning.
Presidential strategies often are lonely positions to hold. With political opposition who value winning at all cost, the responsibility of leading our nation in a world still populated with nuclear weapons is a serious task.
President Obama seems at this point to be the only adult in the room.